Jacques Callot probably first came into contact with landscape as a genre during his stay at Thomassin's workshop in Rome, where landscape was, by 1600, very popular. There, he would have become familiar with the work of the German Adam Elsheimer, the Bolognese Annibale and Agostino Carracci, and the Flemish Paul and Matthias Bril, who were all well-known for their landscapes in painting, drawing and print. It is in Florence, however, that Callot's own landscape production, influenced by his friend Giulio Parigi, became important. Fewer than twenty landscape prints have been attributed to Jacques Callot, representing a very small percentage of his work. Callot's landscape drawings, on the other hand -- some of them studies for his prints -- number about ninety.
The attribution of a landscape to Callot, whether in a print or a drawing medium, is always debated among scholars. Diane Russell (1975), for instance, attributed the series of The Four Landscapes to a `pupil' of Callot, while the 1992 exhibition catalogue devoted to Callot gave the series to the master himself. The dates are also debated. These particular etchings were probably conceived in Florence around 1618-1620 but were certainly published in Nancy because all the extant impressions are on paper made in Lorraine. The UAG owns two of these four landscapes, but the impressions are somewhat weak:
Caption: The Garden Caption: The Small Port
Interestingly, the copper plate for The Small Port, located at the Musťe historique Lorrain, is etched on its reverse side with a sketch for The Enrolling of the Troops, from the series of The Life of Ferdinand I de' Medici. The boats and buildings of The Small Port, especially the fortified palace and tower, are distinctly Florentine.
Callot's series, Various Italian Landscapes, is also problematic. The frontispiece, which does not specify the name of the etcher, does not resemble Callot's work, but the ten etchings of the second state are all inscribed `Callot in. f./Israel ex.' which indicates that Callot invented and etched the image. The publication date of this series is not inscribed, but it has to be after 1630 when IsraŽl Henriet started publishing Callot's work.
Caption: The Stag Hunt Caption: The Naval Battle
The extraordinary rock formations in The Naval Battle were probably inspired by the theatrical sets of the period and are common in Callot's landscape prints. Callot seems to have enjoyed working on the undulating lines of the rocks since they appear slightly exaggerated.
It is generally accepted that Callot etched the first impression for the so-called The Small View of Paris in 1629 during a trip to Paris, but that the actualview of Paris with the Pont-Neuf and the Tour de Nesle in the background was added by Henriet after Callot's death. The print presented below is a second state, completed by Henriet.
This print is sometimes referred to as the `Slave Market,' which is erroneous. The scene depicted here is the liberation of captured Christians, bought back by their families in a Mediterranean port, as the inscription on a preparatory drawing in the Louvre in Paris makes clear. It probably corresponds to the period around 1619-1620, when Callot was especially interested in the Ottoman Empire. Henriet clearly did not understand the subject of this print when he added the view of Paris, creating an astonishing anachronism of a sort which is otherwise rare in Callot's production.
During his trip to Paris in 1629, Callot also executed a series entitled Les deux grandes vues de Paris, consisting of two etchings, the View of the Louvre and the View of the Pont-Neuf. The etching reproduced below is a seventeenth-century copy of Callot's original print. It has been suggested that the activities shown in this print represent part of the celebration organized for the return of the king from the Siege of la Rochelle.
Despite having been influenced in Italy by other masters, such as Elsheimer and Bril, Callot's landscapes rank him among the most successful of seventeenth-century landscapists. Highly personal is the way he handled the choice and description of his scenes and the play of light and shadow.
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